Friday, March 12, 2010

Schechter: What Are They Waiting for? Rich: Quote of the Day

From: Portside

Quote of the Day
February 14, 2010

'So it went with Palin last weekend. Her only concrete program for dealing
with America's pressing problems came in the question-and-answer session.

"It would be wise of us to start seeking some divine intervention again in
this country," she said, "so that we can be safe and secure and prosperous
again." That pretty much sums up her party's economic program, at least:
divine intervention will achieve what government intervention cannot.

That the G.O.P. may actually be winning this argument is less an indictment
of Palin than of Washington Democrats too busy reading the writing on
her hand to see or respond to the ominous political writing on the wall.'

Columnist Frank Rich
New York Times
February 14, 2010



What Are They Waiting for?

By Danny Schechter
Schechter's ZSpace: March 10, 2010

What will it take? What are they waiting for? What part of the reality of a
systemic crisis that will get worse don't they get?

How is it possible that after near three years of economic turmoil, with
possibly hundreds of TRILLIONs down the rabbit hole-not that anyone is
counting or apparently can count-that the geniuses who run our economy still
don't "get" that the sh*t has already hit the fan? How many more jobs and
homes have to be lost?

Michael Moore is not the only one predicting a second crash. Paul Krugman is
all out words excoriating the Administration for its tepidness. Nouriel
Roubini, who forecast the first meltdown, now says we are in serious danger
of a "double-dip," a lethal combo of rising inflation and deeper recession.

Woe to us if we can't see the handwriting on so many walls.

The people in the know know that nothing has been fixed, know that all the
stimuli have barely stimulated, that the new jobs bill will never generate
the number of jobs that are needed, and that the banks have obscenely been
raking in oodles of money thanks to all the financing taxpayers pumped into
their coffers.

Even as the Obamaites finally get around to proposing a measure to break up
the big banks and erode the notion of financial institutions being too big
to fail, we have the New York Times telling us that Congress does not have
the "appetite"-that's the word they use-to tackle even modest financial

The "appetite" is missing. In the real world of appetites, food companies
are recalling unsafe products every day because the food we eat is subjected
to federal inspections. Not so for financial products.

The reason? Politics of course, but also the jillions that the financial
services industry has "invested" in bill killing, compromise-making, and
just plain corrupting the legislative process.

This past week, the Roosevelt Institute sponsored a conference over at the
Time Warner Center called Make Markets Be Markets (
, published a book of essays and heard from a who's who in the world of
influential economists and analysts who gave high powered presentations, one
after another, each more lucid than the next.

There was enough brainpower in the room to save the economy but, alas, no
one seems to be listening. Some business media was there collecting sound
bites but the urgency of the warnings did not transcend the limits of the
bubble of financial journalism.

For a long time, I whined about being ignored in not getting heard on the
economic collapse, which of course, I am, but here were people with Nobel
Prizes and PhDs and track records of making millions also being dissed and

Setting the stage was Joe Stiglitz who won a Nobel Prize for his work, and
who left the World Bank with disgust over what they do. Stiglitz should be
in Obama's cabinet. Instead he is one of its critics.

The presentations started off with Simon Johnson, the former chief economist
the IMF taking about the DOOM CYCLE-how we are just going around in cycles
without really addressing the system nature of the crisis. He writes in the
NY Times and on which you should read every day. He
calls the cycle "unsustainable and crazy" and says that "the destructive
power of the down-cycle will overwhelm the restorative ability of government
like it did in 1929-31."

Translation: Here we go again.

And then there was the super-articulate Raj Date who says we have to get rid
of Frannie Mae and Freddy Mac before they get rid of our housing market. His
analysis was detailed and textured. His conclusion simple: "they must be
eliminated." What is the Obama Administration doing about this? Nada.

It got better when the only woman on the panel, Harvard's Elizabeth Warren
mesmerized the room. She has become a TV fixture because of how charming,
honest and forthright she has been in defending consumers from the rip offs
that we are all menaced by. She is the chairperson of the House oversight
committee on TARP and a leading advocate of an independent consumer
protection agency. She is now watching as Senator Dodd and some of his GOP
cronies try to bury it in the Federal Reserve Bank, a move that many of the
conference criticized in light of the Fed's history of doing so little to
protect the rights of consumers.

After all the speakers presented their arguments, there were comments by
George Soros, who also criticized the economics profession for missing the
crisis, and businessman Jim Chanos who finally brought the discussion around
to the presence of massive fraud and criminality in our financial markets. I
spoke to that issue which I have just written a book on and made a film
about when I got a chance to ask a question.

All too quietly, Wall Street firms are being sued for their many
transgressions. A study by Gary Null found that over $430 billion has been
paid to victimized parties by Wall Street firms in over 1500 cases.

Some examples:

* Bank of America has spent $14.9 billion to settle 15 cases alleging
various charges such as securities violations and mismanagement;

* Citigroup has spent over $13.9 billion to settle 12 cases alleging various
charges including abusive lending practices and involvement in fraudulent

* Merrill Lynch has spent $12.2 billion to settle cases involving various
allegations including negligence and mismanagement of funds;

* Morgan Stanley has spent over $5 billion to settle 11 cases involving
various allegations including failure to disclose material information to

* Wachovia has spent over $9.5 billion to resolve allegations including
misleading investors and conflicts of interest;

UBS has spent $19.5 billion to settle 6 cases with various charges including
misleading investors.
So much information is now out there but to what effect? What more do we
need to know?

There is a time for research and a time for advocacy, a time to try to lobby
in the suites and a time for marching in the streets. Students on US
campuses and workers in Greece have been battling the effects of the crisis.
It is now time to go after the causes.

The public is open to acting. The most recent Zogby poll reports:

# 32% of U.S. adults say they have "considered moving some or all of (their)
banking from a large national bank to a community bank or credit union
because (they) are unhappy with the policies or behavior of large national

# 14% have moved some of their banking in the past year from a large
national bank to a community bank or credit union.

# 9% of all U.S. adults have moved some of their business from large
national banks as a protest.
People are pissed, far angrier than the media lets on. The lines are being
drawn. That hard rain is going to fall.

News Dissector Danny Schechter is a blogger, author and filmmaker. His
latest work is Plunder The Crime of Our Time on the financial crisis as a
crime story ( Comments to

From: Z Net - The Spirit Of Resistance Lives


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